Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Shiraz Flavour - Berry Sensory Analysis

A bunch of Shiraz with berry shrivel.
Shiraz fruit is beginning to show some flavour in many of the remaining vineyards. Acid levels are dropping and many of the best remaining vineyards are booked in for harvest. This give us a chance to get out and taste as much fruit as possible and come to our own conclusions about the vintage.

If I had to some up the ripening season it would be in a few words I would say, "Veraison interrupted."

It has been a difficult ripening period and this has showed through in the way flavours have developed. Most vineyards were affected by the heat and normal verasion did not develop evenly. Even now two weeks after the heat blocks have a high degree of variation.

The bunch shown above is typical of Shiraz this season. Some of the berries now have ripe seeds (brown and crunchy), macerated pulp (juicy) and skin that are chewy and bleed colour onto your fingers. These are the three simple things I look for in mature, high quality Shiraz.

Great news to see these signs!

However, some berries in the same bunch are not ideal. The bunch pictured has some shriveled fruit which tastes bland and has little juice. Worse, from a wine quality point of view, some berries that have only just coloured up and taste sharp and acidic.

Still I think it is as good as it will get. This block is being harvested Thursday night. Lets hope the ripe fruit out-weights the bad.

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